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How will al-Assad leave? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks at the Opera House in central Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has condemned the situation in Syria, describing it as “abominable”, with nearly a hundred Syrians killed on a daily basis at the hands of the tyrant of Damascus. According to Fabius, “The situation is horrific and Bashar must go as fast as possible.” These words are important, but what now? These are important words but solving the Syrian crisis and putting an end to Bashar al-Assad’s violence cannot be achieved by statements alone, particularly as everyone has said everything about the Syrian crisis. What remains necessary is real action, whether diplomatically or militarily, to end Assad’s terrorism. The Security Council is yet to adopt a serious resolution to put an end to the Assad killing machine, which has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Syrians so far, and the international powers are reluctant to support the rebels who have been confronting the tyrant of Damascus’ forces for two years in an unequal war. Assad has well outdone Muammar Qadhafi in terms of killing, destruction, rape, and infanticide. At the beginning of the Libyan revolution it was said that international intervention was necessary for fear of Qadhafi using warplanes against the Libyans, yet now Assad is using them against Syrian civilians on a daily basis.

Therefore, it is true that the French minister’s words are important, particularly as the world seems to have forgotten the Syrian revolution, and the magnitude of crimes being committed against the Syrian people, in light of the launch of military operations in Mali and after the terrorist events in Algeria. Yet Fabius’ condemnation is not enough, for they will not put an end to Assad’s crimes against the Syrian people.

Assad’s ouster is inevitable, but how will it be achieved? What price will be paid by Syria and the entire region? This is the fundamental question and the crux of the matter. If the intention is to let the Syrian people topple Assad by themselves, this represents a real danger for a variety of reasons. The Iranians for example, together with Hezbollah and Iraq’s sectarian extremists, are not hesitating to support the Assad regime. The entire country is being torn apart and its social fabric is being ripped in a systematic manner, whether at the hands of the Assad regime or its allies. This is all happening while the Syrian rebels have no one to support them; no one to provide them with ammunition or arms or to adopt strict political stances towards the Damascus regime.

The story here is not about the legitimacy of foreign intervention; the fact is that this was already happening prior to the Syrian revolution when Assad transformed his country into an Iranian stage, not to mention Iran’s current meddling in the Syrian crisis to defend the Syrian president. Here I am calling for military and political action in Syria, represented by Security Council intervention, to stop the Assad killing machine, avert the possible collapse of the state, and prevent post-Assad Syria from transforming into a breeding ground for terrorism in the region, something that would jeopardize the security of the Middle East as a whole.

Thus, the question is how will Assad leave and what will be the price? This is what the West, and first and foremost the Arabs, must consider. The longer the crisis is prolonged, the more dangerous it is for everyone. We need actions not words.